Tag Archives: Emily Peyton

There Is No Vaccine for Stupid: The Veepies Return Again

When I launched this series, I had no idea how often I’d have enough material for another edition. Turns out, it takes roughly one week. That’s almost one story per day. Here we go again with a healthy dose of Stupidity in the Public Sphere…

The Try to Fix a Problem, It Comes Back, Try the Same Thing Again, It Doesn’t Work, Try It Again, Another Fail, Try Again, You Know What They Say About History Repeating Itself Award goes to the Scott Administration for failing to address the repeated failures of the Labor Department. The weekend brought yet another story about unemployed Vermonters waiting weeks to get their checks or hours on hold to the Department’s call center.

It’s been one thing after another for DOL since the beginning of the pandemic. Its excuses have some truth in them; the UI system is a victim of long-term negligence at the federal level, and last spring’s tsunami of unemployment claims was unprecedented and unforeseeable.

Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington was dealt a bad hand, but he’s played it poorly. He has overseen failure after failure. Not only was he not fired or punished or removed to a quiet corner of the DMV, he actually got a promotion while his department was in flames. But it’s not all on him.

After the jump: Conspiracy theorists get their minute in court, a town ducks a feel-bad story, and a newspaper trolls avidly for advertisers’ favor.

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Politico Pooh-Poohs Politics

Vermont Public Radio and Vermont Public Television have announced a series of broadcast debates in advance of our August primary. The big news: Gov. Phil Scott is not listed as a participant in the Republican gubernatorial debate on July 22. Only his little-known challengers — John Klar, Emily Peyton and Douglas Cavett will take part.

Blockbuster ratings, I’m sure.

Scott’s absence is no surprise; he has said that he will abstain from politics as long as we’re battling the coronavirus. He simply can’t spare the time for a debate. I’m sure many people will see that as a proper and noble stance.

Well, yes and no.

Here’s the thing. Phil Scott is a politician. Has been since his first run for state Senate in 2000. He holds an elective office. Part of the deal is re-applying for the position — going back to the voters and making a case for why he should continue in office. And as long as he sticks to his full-time Covid-fighting claim, he won’t be doing that part of his job.

Is that really okay? I don’t think so.

To begin with, I’m skeptical that he can’t spare any time at all. Is he working 60, 80, 100 hours a week? Sleeping in his office? Perpetually on call? Or is he one step removed — making major decisions but allowing his officials to do the daily grindwork of putting his policies into practice?

Second, is he still as deeply involved as he was at the crisis’ peak, when everything was shutting down and we faced a frightening array of unknowns? He and his officials constantly assure us that, although continued vigilance is needed, things are fairly well under control. Just this week, he cut back his press briefing schedule from three days a week to two. Doesn’t he have a bit more time on his hands by now?

And third, see above. He holds an elective office, he’s answerable to the voters every two years. If he continues to abstain, he is doing us a disservice.

“Politics” has a bad name. But it’s also essential to our system of government.

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A hundred thousand interrupted dinners

Scott Milne is ready to unleash his master stroke — the Hail Mary pass that will seal his epic come-from-behind, David-beats-Goliath victory on November 4.

It’s a Tele-Town Hall Meeting on the evening of November 3.

Our Man Mahatma hosted one of these events just before the August primary. And hey, it obviously worked: he beat Dan Feliciano and Emily Peyton. So why not try it again?

A Tele-Town Hall, for those just joining us, is a kinda-sorta town hall meeting by phone. This one will feature an intro by Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, which I believe is his first official appearance on Milne’s behalf. Awfully nice of him to finally make time for his less well-known, less popular ticket-mate. Then, MIlne will make a few remarks. And finally, he will answer questions submitted by listeners and filtered through campaign staffers and the event’s moderators — his two children, Elise and Keith Milne.

Somehow I doubt that any inconvenient or embarrassing questions will get through.

But the most notable aspect of this grand event will happen before the 7:00 pm launch. Robo-calls will go out to “the homes of over 100,000 registered voters inviting them to stay on the line as the event begins.”

Peachy keen. A hundred thousand Vermonters will get cold-called at, what, 6:50, and told to hold on the line for an hour of one-sided, sanitized political chatter.

Better ger dinner ready early, Mom and Dad, so you and the kids can gather ’round the phone for this historic moment in democracy.

Seriously, how many people are going to get an unexpected call during the dinner hour and voluntarily stick around for more than an hour?

Well, to look at it the other way, if Milne gets one-half of one percent to stick around, he’ll have an audience of 500. Which is probably more than he’s drawn to any campaign event before now.

Besides, as Milne points out, “Vermonters deserve transparent leaders willing to listen to their concerns…”

Yes, wiling to listen to carefully selected concerns filtered through Milne’s campaign apparatus.

There’s a special phone number, by the way, for members of the media who want to listen in. They can’t ask questions, mind you; Milne isn’t that transparent. But he’s happy to provide us with a toll-free number in exchange for whatever free publicity he can muster on the last night of the election.

Weird Uncle Pete and the Fringe Brigade

Just about every family has that one relative. The one you try to stay away from. The one you never ever ever talk politics/religion/race with. The one who drinks too much, or gives creepily extended hugs. For our purposes, let’s call him Weird Uncle Pete.

Not Peter Diamondstone.

Not Peter Diamondstone.

As uncomfortable as Weird Uncle Pete makes everyone, he still gets invited to Thanksgiving dinner. Because he’s family.

But that doesn’t mean you have to invite him to a gubernatorial debate.

Well, it does, but only in Vermont. There, occupying the designated Fringe Candidate chair at Tuesday night’s debate, was Peter Diamondstone, perpetual candidate of the Liberty Union Party. (At the first debate, it was Hempily Peyton.)

And I have to say, as admirable our attention to inclusion may appear, people like Weird Uncle Pete add absolutely nothing to a high-stakes political debate. They occupy space, they take up time, and they limit the opportunity for real interaction between the candidates who have a prayer of actually being elected. Their inclusion is a disservice to the voting public.

Now, I don’t mind if Peyton and Diamondstone get one round. But I sure as hell hope I don’t have to hear either one of them again this year.

This ain’t the Special Olympics, folks. Everyone doesn’t get a ribbon for participation. I don’t mind that Vermont’s ballot access law is extremely lenient, but you don’t deserve a place on center stage or 20+ minutes of my time just because you got your name on the ballot.

Emily Peyton got on the ballot by collecting 500 signatures. Diamondstone got on the ballot because in 2012, the Republicans and Progressives didn’t run a candidate for Secretary of State, which left the Liberty Union candidate alone against Jim Condos. And of course, she got enough votes to guarantee her party ballot access for 2014. Diamondstone didn’t do a damn thing to “merit” a seat at the debate.

You may think me undemocratic, but I ask you: what is the purpose of these debates? I argue that they exist to serve the voting public. And the voting public is best served by an uncluttered presentation by candidates who, again, actually have a prayer of becoming Governor. Debates are designed to help the undecided make up their minds. The vast majority of those undecideds are never, in a million years, going to even consider voting for the likes of Weird Uncle Pete and Aunt Hempily.

We only get four gubernatorial debates this year. We can’t afford to hand them out like participation ribbons.

The Four-Ring Circus: First thoughts on the gubernatorial debate

Still to come: longer takes on Scott Milne and Dan Feliciano. (As Milne would say, “Stay tuned!”) For now, overall grades plus miscellaneous notes:

The first gubernatorial debate of the campaign, broadcast live on WDEV Saturday at 11 a.m. (from the Tunbridge World’s Fair) was a spirited affair, kept lively by moderator Mark Johnson who, IMO, should be Vermont’s Moderator Laureate, the #1 option for all our debate needs. All four candidates — Governor Shumlin, Scott Milne, Dan Feliciano, and Emily Peyton — gave good representations of themselves. In the case of one candidate, that was a good thing.

(Audio of debate available via Mark Johnson’s podcast. Video courtesy of CCTV.

First off, overall grades.

Peter Shumlin: A. Did what he had to do. Spoke forcefully and clearly, presented his point of view, and defined the race to his advantage. Because of the four-candidate format, Shumlin wasn’t fully tested on responding to attacks, particularly over health care reform. I’m really hoping there’s at least one face-to-face debate between Shumlin and Milne. That would be a real service to Vermont voters, more so than paying lip service to “fairness.” Fairness is nice, but in truth, the vast majority of voters are only going to consider two of these folks, and they deserve to see how Milne and Shumlin measure up in a direct encounter.

Dan Feliciano: B-. He did give a solid accounting of his candidacy. He did present some actual ideas, unlike Mahatma over there. Strictly grading on quality of presentation, he came across as a credible candidate. The biggest problem: his views are not shared by the vast majority of voters. To the extent that they got a clear view of Feliciano, they almost certainly decided that he’s not their man. Credit to his advance team for planting some shills in the audience, though.

Scott Milne: C. The top headline from this debate, in truth, was “Scott Milne Doesn’t Poop Himself.” Sounded a lot more coherent than in previous interviews, such as his notorious Mark Johnson disaster. He was fully programmed with talking points, attacks on Shumlin, and even pre-planned “ad libs” meant to play to the crowd. However, there were three huge drawbacks:

— He was handicapped by the four-person format. He had a hard time engaging Shumlin directly, which is what he has to do.

— He often sounded pre-programmed. His delivery was rushed, even frantic at times, as though he was trying to get through his talking points before time ran out.

— He still hasn’t defined his campaign positively. He had to fall back on his standard “Stay Tuned” promise when asked for specifics. His lack of clarity allows Shumiln an easy, and accurate, attack line: Milne has no ideas.

Emily Peyton: No grade. Who cares. Go away.

Really, I mean it. Her presence added nothing to the debate. She could have provided a service by giving voice to the leftist critique of Shumlin on taxes, campaign finance, and human services, plus his endangerment of single-payer health care because of the inept rollout of Vermont Health Connect. But her views are too quirky for that. She’s a unique combination of progressive, libertarian, and classic Vermont weirdo. She has no business being allowed in the gubernatorial debates.

Bonus demerits for turning her closing statement into an infomercial for hemp. Shameless. And pointless.

During the debate, she complained over a perceived slight from Johnson, and asserted that she’d nearly been shut out of the debate. For which she blamed sexism. I certainly believe that we need more female candidates and officeholders, and one of the only knocks against the Democratic Party is its failure to promote women to top offices. But that doesn’t mean you let an unqualified nutjob onto the stage simply because she has the requisite gender characteristics. No more Peyton. Please.

Emily Peyton Stands the Gap Between Polity and Chaos

Perennial candidate Emily Peyton, fresh off losing the Republican gubernatorial primary, has some thoughts on How To Have A Fair Election, published in the August 29 Mitchell Family Organ. Unsurprisingly, her prescription involves a hell of a lot more attention devoted to the genius of Emily Peyton and her colleagues in the Fringe Brigade. 

She blames the media, of course. Not just the media, but the alleged “GOP/press piracy of the election process.” Yeh, me and “Super Dave” Sunderland, we’re thick as thieves. 

But that’s not the most outrageous thing she said.  

…revolution is becoming an increasingly dangerous inevitability. We are in danger of losing all peace if party/press piracy of elections continues. 


Had the press been fair and impartial, Dan Feliciano might have won… I might have won in a miracle, but I’m not sleek or slick. I’m too ahead of my time and I know it, so I realistically doubt it. …I’ll keep at it through November — to avert the coming revolution.

Ooof. Emily Peyton is too ahead of her time to win, but will continue her campaign for the sake of staving off chaos. Narcissistic, much?

With all due respect, Ms. Peyton, if you and your messianic worldview were better-known, you probably would have gotten fewer votes, not more. You’re better off being little-known and hoping people vote for you at random. 

But let’s move on to the Peyton Prescription, guaranteed to ward off the coming apocalypse. She calls on the party/press cartel to adopt the following program: 

Through their nonprofit, they organize and fund debates in each county during the election season with every balloted candidate of any party welcomed. Party favorite candidates that no-show are publicly busted as the corrupt 1 percent elite. 

Each debate is shared through cable access, online in video, transcripted and audio formats. Each debate centers on a different topic (energy, health, education, agriculture, corrections, transportation, environment, federal policy, monetary policy, taxation, military affairs and policing, and government). Questions for candidates will be generated by the public only, and each debate will last as long as questions continue. 

No idea what she means by “their nonprofit,” but never mind. There’s one big huge problem with Peyton’s plan, and it’s not party/press piracy. It’s that nobody would watch these endless debates. The vast majority of voters are simply not that interested. 

Which is also why the media has a lot less impact than Peyton or the media themselves believe. Most people don’t follow politics. Most voters start each campaign with their minds made up, firmly committed to one party or the other. They aren’t interested in learning about a whole bunch of candidates. Even true independents aren’t interested in spending much more than a token amount of time researching issues and candidates. 

So let’s say the party/press pirates bow to Peyton’s demands. Would she require people to watch? Would they have to prove that they watched all the relevant debates in order to receive a ballot? If not, then the debates would be meaningless. 

Fact is, it’s not that hard to gain a spot on the Vermont ballot — as the Liberty Union Party proves every other year. Getting on the ballot does not, by itself, earn you the right to demand reams of print coverage and hours of free media time and voter attention. A candidate must show some measure of public support to earn our attention. And it does happen: witness the Tea Party, and the national popularity of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. 

Sure, there are problems with our political system. And sure, the two major parties occupy too much of the available space. But a series of twelve debates including every single candidate on the ballot? For, presumably, every office on the ballot? And each debate goes on and on “as long as questions continue”? 

Nobody… and I mean nobody… would sit through that.

Okay, so Dan Feliciano is doing a little better than I thought.

But he’s still losing in a landslide.

The Libertarian gubernatorial candidate’s write-in bid for the Republican nom went absolutely nowhere. With about 80% of the votes counted, Scott Milne has 72% of the vote; Steve Berry and Emily Peyton are both at about 7%, and almost 15% of the votes were write-ins.

All we’re getting tonight is a total write-in tally. It’ll take a few days to determine whether all of those 15% were Feliciano scribbles or if some of them were for Daffy Duck or Bullwinkle T. Moose.

Safe to conclude that Feliciano will manage to edge out Berry and Peyton. And he might try to paint a double-digit write-in finish as a moral victory of sorts. But still, it’s got to be embarrassing to the prominent Republicans who abandoned Milne and supported this doomed effort.

Except that we’re talking about people with an extremely high embarrassment threshold.

Question: Will top Republicans like Mark “Little Snell” Snelling and Brady Toensing now endorse Scott Milne? Or will they just hold their breath until they turn blue, like the statesmen they are?

Also, on the Democratic side, Governor Shumlin now has 77% to H. Brooke Paige’s 16%. Good God, are there really 2,557 voters willing to elect the Obama birther as our Governor? Sheesh.

The other news is the recently-launched and unofficial effort to get write-in votes for the recently cashiered Doug Racine. Write-ins accounted for 6% of the Democratic tally, so I guess he got a few.


Hypocrisy in the debate debate

Aww. Scott Milne pulled out of a Republican gubernatorial debate again today.

Can’t say I blame him, since the other three candidates aren’t really seriously competitive, and it might diminish his standing to share a stage with them.

Except, of course, that he’s been doing such a bang-up job of diminishing his own standing with no outside help. Besides, his decision to basically ignore the Republican primary stands in stark contrast to (1) his constant complaining that Governor Shumlin won’t start officially campaigning until after Labor Day, and (2) VTGOP Chair David Sunderland’s constant complaining that VT Dem chair Dottie Deans won’t accept his asinine debate proposal publicity stunt.

Besides, given the state of Milne’s campaign, he could use all the free media he can get. If he had shown up, the event would have probably drawn a lot more coverage.

Also, frankly, Milne could use a little live-fire practice. He’s been depressingly tongue-tied on the campaign trail. He could maybe sharpen his skills a bit in a low-stakes debate where he ought to be able to clean the clocks of his small-timey challengers. He’d better damn well up his game before he gets into the ring with Peter Shumlin, that’s for sure.

I feel bad, being so negative about a guy whose mother died a week ago. But time and political campaigns wait for no man, and he put himself behind this chronological eight-ball by waiting until June to begin his candidacy. I am, literally, the least of his worries.